Ratings Roundup: SNF, TNF Are Top Two Fall Primetime Shows; ABC’s NBA Finals Rematch Pulls in Big Numbers on Christmas

Ratings roundup is a rundown of ratings news from the past week and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football are on track to finish as the top two Fall Primetime shows this season, Broncos-Chiefs on Sunday is the most watched NFL Week 16 primetime game in five years, TNF’s Eagles-Giants game pulls in 18.3 million TAD on NBC, ESPN wins the night with Panthers-Redskins MNF matchup, ABC’s NBA Finals rematch is the most-watched early window Christmas game in 12 years, and NBCSN is set to have its best year ever. 

NBC’s SNF, NBC/NFL Network’s TNF Finish as Top Two Fall Primetime Shows
SNF averaged at least 21 million viewers for three consecutive December games for the first time since 2010. Compared to 2015, SNF posted a viewership increase for a third consecutive week (Weeks 14-16). Viewership for NBC’s Sunday Night Football has increased 10% since the Presidential Election, averaging 21.2 million viewers for eight SNF games beginning Sunday, Nov. 13, compared to 19.3 million viewers for the season’s first 10 SNF games…

tnftwit…The NBC/NFL Network television presentation of Thursday Night Football will finish the fall TV season as primetime’s #2 show behind only NBC’s Sunday Night Football (according to Nielsen live + same day data). The NBC/NFL Network/Twitter Thursday Night Football five-game series averaged a “Total Audience Delivery” of 17.4 million viewers. The NBC/NFL Network TV-only Thursday Night Football coverage averaged 17.0 million viewers for this season’s five-game series — ranking as primetime TV’s #2 show this fall, behind only NBC’s SNF (20.1 million viewers), according to Nielsen live + same day data.  The Average Minute Audience (AMA) for the live stream of the five TNF games via Twitter, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital averaged 374,400 viewers.

Broncos-Chiefs Is Most Watched NFL Week 16 Primetime Game in 5 Years
The Kansas City Chiefs’ 33-10 Christmas night victory over the Denver Broncos on NBC’s Sunday Night Football averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 21.5 million viewers across NBC and NBC Sports Digital platforms – marking the most-watched Week 16 NFL primetime game since 2011 (according to Nielsen Fast Nationals and Adobe Analytics). The NBC-only broadcast of Broncos-Chiefs averaged 21.4 million viewers — ranking as the most-watched Week 16 NFL primetime game in five years (24.0 million for Bears-Packers on NBC’s SNF, 12/25/11). The 21.4 million viewers for Denver-Kansas City topped last year’s Week 16 SNF game by 20% (17.9 million for Giants-Vikings) and marked a 16% increase over the teams’ first meeting this season in Week 12 – a thrilling Chiefs’ 30-27 overtime victory in an NBC SNF “flex game” on Nov. 27 (18.4 million viewers). NBC-only viewership for Broncos-Chiefs peaked at 23.3 million from 9:15-9:30 p.m. ET. The game (8:31-11:28 p.m. ET) registered a TV-only national household rating of 10.6/22 – up from Giants-Vikings (10.4/18).

NBC Sports Digital reached 487,000 unique viewers for Broncos-Chiefs – up 78% from last year’s Week 16 SNF game (274,000). The Average Minute Audience for Sunday night’s live stream via the NBC Sports app, NBCSports.com, NBC.com ‘TV Everywhere,’ and NFL Mobile from Verizon was 81,000 viewers.

TNF Eagles-Giants Face-off Pulls in 18.3 Million TAD on NBC
The closing Philadelphia Eagles’ 24-19 victory over the rival New York Giants on Thursday Night Football averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 18.3 million viewers across all platforms – NBC, NFL Network, Twitter, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital (according to Nielsen Fast Nationals and Adobe Analytics). The NBC/NFL Network TV-only coverage of Giants-Eagles averaged 17.9 million TV-only viewers – ranking as the #2 most-watched Thursday Night Football game of 2016, behind the record-setting Cowboys-Vikings TNF game on NBC and NFL Network on Dec. 1 (21.8 million viewers). TV viewership for Giants-Eagles on NBC and NFL Network peaked at 20.6 million from 11:15-11:30 p.m. ET. Last night’s game (8:27-11:38 p.m. ET) registered a national household TV rating of 10.6/20.

The Average Minute Audience (AMA) for the live stream via Twitter, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital was 350,000 viewers. In total, Twitter reached 3.3 million combined worldwide viewers for pregame coverage and Giants-Eagles for a minimum of three seconds with that video being 100% in view. For the Thursday Night Football game alone, Twitter reached 2.8 million viewers. The average audience (AMA) watching Thursday Night Football on Twitter properties was 240,000.


ESPN Wins the Night With Panthers-Redskins MNF Matchup
ESPN’s Week 15 Monday Night Football game – a Carolina Panthers 26-15 victory over the Washington Redskins – delivered a total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 11,471,000 average viewers. On TV (ESPN and ESPN Deportes), the game delivered 11,270,000 average viewers. On ESPN, the game averaged a 6.8 US household rating. The game rating peaked during the 9:45-10 p.m. quarter hour with an 8.2 household rating and 13,699,000 viewers.

ESPN’s streaming audience for Panthers-Redskins attracted an additional average minute audience of 201,000 viewers across the ESPN and ESPN Deportes streams, a 105 percent gain year-over-year. Between the two streams there were 500,000 viewers who watched 46 million live minutes – up 61 and 120 percent year-over-year, respectively.

The game helped ESPN win the night among all networks (broadcast or cable) in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54).Including this game, ESPN has won the night among all key male and adult demos 14 times (in 15 weeks) this season, and 11 times among households and viewers. The MNF game also ranked as the No. 1 telecast of the night among households, viewers and all key male and adult demos.

In Charlotte, the game delivered an 11.5 rating on ESPN and a 14.7 on WSOC-ABC, for a combined 26.2 rating in the market. In Washington, DC, the game delivered an 8.0 rating on ESPN and a 13.9 on WJLA-ABC, for a combined 21.9 rating in the market. The top metered markets (not including those of the competing teams): Richmond-Petersburg (16.1), Norfolk (15.4), Greensboro (14.1), New Orleans (12.6), Baltimore (11.6), Raleigh-Durham (11.4), Greenville (10.5), Seattle-Tacoma (10.4), Philadelphia (10.0) and Las Vegas (9.7).

ABC’s NBA Finals Rematch Is Most-Watched Early Window Christmas Game in 12 Years
The Christmas Day NBA Finals rematch on ABC, in which the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in a 109-108 thriller, delivered a total live audience of 10,163,000 average viewers (ABC + streaming), making it ABC’s most-watched Christmas NBA broadcast in 12 years in the early window (2:30 p.m. ET). The broadcast peaked with 11,800,000 average viewers (p2+) from 5-5:15 p.m., according to Nielsen. The total live audience for the NBA Finals rematch was up 73 percent from 5,880,000 viewers for last year’s Chicago Bulls vs. Oklahoma City Thunder matchup. Sunday’s broadcast delivered 10,077,000 average viewers (p2+) on ABC and it drew an average minute streaming audience of 87,000 viewers, 359,000 unique viewers and 14.8 million total minutes streamed. The Cavaliers-Warriors broadcast is the fifth-most watched regular-season NBA game in ABC history.


Sunday’s five-game slate, driven by the Cavaliers vs. Warriors showdown, propelled ESPN to its most-streamed NBA Christmas Day ever. The NBA games generated 44.3 million total streaming minutes, 197,000 average unique viewers and an average minute audience of 54,000, which is up 33 percent from 33.5 million, nine percent from 180,000, and 29 percent from 42,000, respectively, from last year.

The Boston Celtics’ victory over the New York Knicks was the most-watched Christmas NBA game on ESPN in the 12 p.m. telecast window since 2012. The telecast drew 3,748,000 total live viewers (ESPN + streaming), which is up 17 percent from 3,208,000 viewers for last year’s Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Pelicans matchup in the same window. The telecast averaged 3,687,000 viewers (p2+), peaking with 4,604,000 viewers from 2-2:30 p.m., on ESPN and an additional average minute streaming audience of 61,000.

NBCSN on Pace for Best Year Ever
With New Year’s Day approaching, NBCSN for the third consecutive year is on pace for its best-ever year in 2016, according to Nielsen live plus same day data. Highlighted by 330 hours of live Rio Olympics coverage, NBCSN is averaging 171,000 viewers through the first 50 weeks of the year (Dec. 28, 2015-Dec. 11, 2016) and will finish 2016 with its best-ever Total Day (6 a.m.-6 a.m.) viewership – topping by 16% the prior record set last year (148,000). In addition, NBCSN is again on pace for its best-ever year in primetime (8 p.m.-11 p.m.) averaging 390,000 viewers – up 9% from last year’s record (358,000). Among Adults 25-54, NBCSN is averaging 175,000 primetime viewers – the best viewership figure ever for the network in the demo – marking a 14% increase over last year (154,000) and topping by 5% the prior record (166,000 in 2009).

The following milestones led to NBCSN’s record-setting 2016: NBCSN ranked as most-watched sports cable network in August (Total Day); NBCSN ranked as #1 sports cable network in primetime over 14 days of live extended primetime Rio 2016 coverage; NASCAR Sprint Cup Indianapolis race on July 24 ranked as NBCSN’s most-watched telecast ever; Second-half of NBCSN’s most-watched full NHL regular-season ever (2015-16), followed by most-watched NHL Opening Night doubleheader ever (Oct. 12); Most-Watched Formula One season ever on NBCSN, and best for a single cable network in 21 years; Most-Watched IndyCar race ever for NBC Sports Group (July 31); Most-Watched Premier League opening weekend match on cable (Aug. 14).

NBCSN ranked #1 among all sports cable networks in August in Total Day average viewership (509,000), Adult 25-54 viewership (214,000 viewers), and Adult 18-49 viewership (202,000 viewers). NBCSN, the home of Team USA, was the #1 sports cable network in primetime over the 14 days it presented live extended primetime Rio 2016 coverage (7 p.m.-midnight ET) with an average of 1.32 million viewers from Sat., Aug. 6 – Fri., Aug. 19.

NBCSN’s July 24 presentation of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the network’s most-watched and highest-rated telecast on record, averaging 5.2 million viewers with a 3.1 household rating. Seven of NBC Sports Group’s NASCAR Sprint Cup races (five on NBCSN) ranked as the top cable sports program of their respective weekends.

NBCSN televised 54 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games, averaging 1.1 million viewers – marking the fourth consecutive year that the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs averaged more than one million viewers on the network. NBCSN’s signature Wednesday Night Rivalry series – despite facing the final Presidential Debate and Game 7 of the historic World Series – is averaging 579,000 viewers in calendar 2016, matching last year’s viewership for the series. NBCSN’s coverage of the season-opening NHL “Face-Off” on Oct. 12 produced the most-watched regular-season doubleheader in the network’s history. The opening night Wednesday Night Rivalry twin bill, featuring 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff rematches between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, and the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, combined to average 696,000 viewers, up 3% percent vs. the previous record (679,000; 10/8/14; Flyers-Bruins and Sharks-Kings).

NBCSN has televised 14 of the 15 most-watched Premier League matches ever on cable in the U.S. – including the Manchester United-Leicester City game on May 1. That match averaged 908,000 viewers and earned one point for Leicester City, which clinched their historic and unexpected Premier League title the next day. NBCSN’s Arsenal-Liverpool match on Sunday, Aug. 14 averaged 745,000 viewers – marking the most-watched Premier League opening weekend match ever on U.S. cable television.

NBC Sports Group delivered a second consecutive season of record-setting IndyCar Series viewership in 2016, reaching more than 6.5 million total viewers, its highest season-total since acquiring IndyCar rights in 2009. The July 31 IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio averaged 929,000 viewers (NBCSN + CNBC simulcast) to become cable’s most-watched IndyCar race since NBC Sports Group acquired rights in 2009.

For the second consecutive season, NBCSN posted the best Formula One viewership by a single cable network in two decades. NBCSN averaged 429,000 viewers for its live coverage of 14 races in 2016, up 3% vs. 2015 (418,000), ranking as the best F1 season for a single cable network since 1995. (NOTE: Due to the global nature of F1, many races begin prior to 7:30 a.m. ET.). NBCSN tied a network-record with five Grands Prix averaging more than 500,000 viewers (Bahrain, European, German, Belgian, Brazilian).

Live morning coverage of the 2016 Tour de France drew 297,000 average viewers, the second-best viewership since 2011.

Ratings Odds and Ends
FOX Sports’ 2016 MLS Cup presentation on the FOX broadcast network delivered 1,411,000 viewers on Saturday, Dec. 10, making it the most-watched MLS Cup since 2001.  Saturday night’s match, in which only one U.S. home market was represented, saw the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup, defeating Toronto FC 0(5)-0(4) in penalty kicks. The game posted a viewership increase of +111% over last year’s game (668,000), which was televised by ESPN on a Sunday afternoon. As the intensity and drama grew into overtime and penalty kicks, so did the audience, peaking with 2.159 million viewers between 10:45 PM – 11:00 PM ET. On FOX Sports GO, the league’s 21st annual championship attracted 115,530 streams and 53,769 minutes streamed…

…Overnight data from Numeris confirms that an average audience of more than 1.5 million viewers tuned in to Toronto FC’s penalty kick loss to the Seattle Sounders on TSN (1.43 million) and RDS (92,000) to become Canada’s most-watched MLS game in history. The game was the most-watched television program – including sports broadcasts – in Canada on Saturday night…

…CBS Sports’ coverage of the 117th Army-Navy Classic on Saturday, Dec. 10 (3:00-6:30 PM, ET), which saw Army beat Navy for the first time since 2001, scored its highest rating in 22 years with an average overnight HH rating/share of 5.6/13, up 10% from last year’s 5.1/12 in the metered markets. Yesterday’s 5.6/13 was the highest rating since a 6.5/19 (12/3/94).

Yesterday’s game rating peaked at a 6.9/14 (6:00-6:30 PM, ET)


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